South Shields cheese thief caught by off-duty worker


A THIEF was spotted stealing a block of cheese from a South Tyneside supermarket by a store assistant who had just finished her shift.

David Crabtree ran from the Tesco Express store, on Prince Edward Road South Shields, after being confronted by the worker.

The 25-year-old had put the cheese - worth £5.25 - in his jacket and then left without paying.

Crabtree, of Dock Street, South Shields, pleaded guilty to shop theft at South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court yesterday.

He was arrested folowing the theft on Saturday and kept in custody until his court appearance.

But Crabtree was detained in the court until 3pm - after telling Judge Roger Elsey he couldn’t pay a £50 fine on the spot.

Keith Laidlaw, prosecuting, said: “A shop assistant at the Tesco Express had finished her shift and was doing some shopping for herself in the store.

“She noticed Crabtree putting the cheese in his jacket. She confronted him but he ignored her and goes towards the exit.

“She shouted to the store manager but when she looked back he had ran from the store.”

He said CCTV was later viewed and Crabtree was identified and arrested.

Charlton Carr, defending, said: “He has entered an immediate guilty plea and should be given full credit for that.

“He committed the offence because he was in financial difficulties. He is on Employment Support Allowance but has had debts to pay.

“He has told me he doesn’t want to steal, but did so to supplement his income.

“He has been in custody since Saturday evening, in excess of 24 hours. There was no sophistication, he just took an opportunity.”

The court heard that Crabtree’s offence put him in breach of an existing conditional discharge.

District Judge Roger Elsey fined Crabtree £50, but as he couldn’t pay the fine he detained him at the court until 3pm.